So I dropped by the Autoshow on my way home last night. Since it was the official opening day, I wanted to see what the crowds were like and what, if any, improvements/tweaks had happened since media day.
My biggest concern of course was the Honda Indy Toronto booth (or well, the Toronto Sun booth supporting the race)
Of course I had no choice but to first pass by the NASCAR Pavillion. (it’s right at the bottom of the escalators heading to the main exhibit hall) (see pics)
Say what you will about it, but they’ve got it right. Two show cars (CDN drivers) flank the front. Two large ultra cool tv screens hanging above the booth broadcasting SPEEDTV live coverage. (conveniently it’s Daytona Weekend, so there’s lots of coverage) “Have bus will travel” is there. They run tours to several Nascar events. They have uniforms that look like crew shirts, and are very knowledgeable about the series. There is a pit crew challenge set up. (half a car where you change a tire and pretend to refuel) and two Nascar racing simulators. Several banners featuring drivers, and branding everywhere. And it’s loud. The girl running the pit challenge is mic’d, the simulators are cranked and the tv’s are live and loud. It gets your attention whether you like racing or not.
My heart sank into the pit of my stomach as I made my way into the main hall to find the Honda Indy Toronto booth. I was pleasantly surprised to find it moved to a much more visible, central location and a much bigger set up. I wandered around, took some pics. There weren’t many folks milling about. Some kids on the simulators (not Open Wheel unfortch), and a girl sitting on the couch ignoring the racing video playing, texting someone on her phone. I walked around to the front desk where the three booth bunnies were engaged in a conversation about something. (one with her back to me) It took a few minutes but finally one of them asked me if I wanted to fill out a ballot. I explained I was media, which snapped them all to attention, and prompted them to ask me if I had any questions. I asked how the response had been so far, if people were asking questions about the race, etc… They said that the response so far had been positive. Over the course of the conversation all three revealed they knew nothing about racing. :bangs head on desk: To their credit however, they were mature and engaging, and inquisitive while talking to me about racing, so I guess that scores them points. Also, they are representing the Toronto Sun, not the race, so not their fault really. That said, would it really break the bank to have someone actually representing the race it self, who is knowledgeable about the series and the event, to also be on hand to field questions?? Also, I would have had the show car down in the main booth. Or the main booth up by the show car. Keeping everything together.
Sadly there is no real information on the race itself at the booth. Nothing about the schedule, the series, the support races, etc… Just several contests that you can enter. Win tickets to the race, win the pace car, win a trip to St. Petes (for the race) Actually there was a lot of St. Petes stuff. (travel brochures, etc…)
The Princess will be there next week to sign autographs. No need to express how I feel about that. It was explained to me earlier this week when I questioned the logic of not using a CDN driver to promote that being an AGR event, they will be utilizing their own resources to promote the race. (ie: drivers, cars, etc…) I get that, but I don’t have to like it.
For those not going to the Autoshow or not locals but planning to attend the Toronto Race, here is a little heads up for you. If you go to www.hondaindytoronto.com before Feb 22 and enter the promo code: Andretti, you will recieve a FREE paddock pass ($40 value) with every grandstand seat purchased. So, if you’re planning to buy, might as well pony up now, and get a deal. Ticket sales are actually going well according to my source. Everything else aside, I want to see my race not only succeed but flourish for many years to come, so again, happy to hear that.
The crowd was pretty sparse last night. I would imagine most folks are waiting till the weekend to spend a full day there. Also they have a great family weekend pass offer.
I have to say too, that their are a lot of people manning the little side boths who are about as engaging as a tree stump. No smiles, no hello, no “can I answer a question, interest you in the product I’m supposed to be hawking?” Nope. Just disinterested, blank stares. Now I’ve done several booth bunny stints for a variety of different shows. It really doesn’t take more than a smile and “enjoy the show” to bring someone to your booth or make them feel welcome. It amazes me that some of these people are earning a wage to do this.
OH, there was a booth… “buddy” I guess as he was a he… LOL.. who was at the Sunoco display upstairs (which also has a NASCAR show car) and who engaged in a conversation with me, even after I told him I wasn’t interested in entering the contest. He noticed my racing cap, and started a conversation. (smart) which kept me there making his booth seem more appealing to other passersby. That also sparked him to inform me that Ron Fellows was going to be there on Monday between 2-4pm to sign autographs. (of course there was no signage to that effect, so unless you’re psychic you wouldn’t have had a clue about it…)
Engaging and knowledgeable.
In this economic climate, when purchasing a car is more of a fantasy for folks than ever, the more appealing you can make the whole experience, the better for all involved.
Anyway, here are some more pics. I’m going to try and make it down on Monday, and then of course I have to grin and bear it and go cover Princess Danica’s appearance on Wednesday.
Autoshow Gallery 2